U.S. employers are expecting health benefits costs to increase by an average of 8.5 per cent to more than $15,000 per employee in 2024, according to a new survey by Aon.

The survey, which polled 800 U.S. employers, found the projected increase is nearly double the budgeted amount that employers experienced from 2022 to 2023 (4.5 per cent). On average, the budgeted benefits plan cost was $13,906 per employee in 2023.

Read: U.S. employers expecting health benefits costs to rise 5.6% per employee in 2023: survey

“While economy-wide inflation spiked during the past two years, employer-sponsored health-care costs did not see dramatic increases during the same time period due to the multi-year nature of typical medical provider contracts,” said Debbie Ashford, chief actuary for health solutions in North America at Aon, in a press release.

“Even though inflation is subsiding, health-care trend is growing as medical providers push insurers for larger cost increases to cover the higher costs of wages and supplies that they endured during the last couple years but were unable to pass on to payers.”

In 2023, employee premiums from paycheques were slated to increase 1.7 per cent from 2022, according to the survey, which noted employers subsidize 81 per cent, on average, of their benefits plan cost, while employees pay the remainder. This year, employees contributed roughly $4,675 for health coverage of which $2,682 was paid in the form of premiums from paycheques, with $1,993 paid through plan design features such as deductibles, co-pays and co-insurance.

Read: Employer health benefits cost trends rising 10% in 2023: survey